A board game
that probably influence
d the game of chess
and is nowadays refer
red to as "The Viking
The Viking Game ranks as one of history's great board games. It was at its most popular during the Dark Ages in Northern Europe, a period of scant records and shifting populations. Like so much of the history of the Dark Ages our knowledge of the Viking Game is patchy, a mystery now half solved as a result of archaeological research.
The game was popular in the Viking homelands in Scandinavia as early as 400 AD and was carried by the Vikings to the lands they conquered. Over the centuries the game developed and different versions of the board have been found by archaeologists in sites from Ireland to the Ukraine.
Occasionally referred to in manuscripts the game was know as Hnefatafl which means literally "king's table". The study of these manuscripts and examination of the various types of board and pieces has enabled researchers to work out how the game was probably played. There is not doubt however that many versions of the rules existed at different places and at different times.
Hnefatafl was last recorded as being played in Wales in 1587 and in Lappland in 1723. Its decline began in the 11th century as chess grew in popularity, it soon lingered on only in remote country districts.